Friday, May 19, 2017

Pippa Mann: The One in the Pink Car

Pippa Mann grew up in Britain racing carts and then moved to open-wheel cars in Europe, becoming the first female driver to score points and start a race from pole position in the World Series by Renault. She moved to the United States in 2009 to race in Indy Lights, the feeder series to IndyCar, and in 2010 she became one of only two women to win a race in that series.

In addition, a statistic I know she's especially proud of, she became the only woman in any racing series to capture a pole position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The same year, she finished fifth in the Indy Lights championship and was voted Most Popular Driver for the series.

She qualified for the Indy 500 for the first time in 2011, becoming the eighth woman in history, and the first British woman, to do so. Since 2011, she's started the race four more times (2013-2016), and this year, she'll make her sixth attempt. She's officially on record as the second-fastest female in history at IMS, with a top qualifying speed just under 230 mph.

The Indy 500 is the focus of Pippa's racing season, but she also makes the occasional appearance for Dale Coyne Racing on other ovals. In addition, in 2017, she's started racing Lamborghinis in the Super Trofeo series, and she helped found an all-female karting team, Team Empower.

In the interest of full disclosure, I know Pippa, and she's been invaluable to me as a source for my books. So I'm biased, for sure, but she's also a hell of an inspiration. You see, Pippa loves racing—loves racing in the Indy 500—so much that she works 50 weeks a year to pull together the money from sponsors to spend 2 weeks with her car on track. ALL YEAR. Plus, as if that level of fundraising wasn't enough, she's taken on more.

In 2014, she connected with the Susan G. Komen Foundation as an unpaid partner. Then she managed to convince her paying sponsors to make their logos really small, in order to have Komen on the car. Then she got partners and friends to donate goods that she could sell/auction to raise funds for Komen. In the past two years, the campaign has earned more than $135,000 for Komen.

What I find even more interesting is Pippa's experience with pink—because I went through the same transition in recent years. You see, as a female in a male world, growing up, Pippa eschewed pink, so as not to seem "girly" (we all know that usually means "weak," right?). And then along came Komen and the need for a pink car. So she took a deep breath and embraced it. And I think she came to love it (as I have). Now, she's finding that a lot of sponsors and fans LIKE to be associated with the female and the female cause on track...so the pink has turned into an asset.

"It's kind of cool that all those little girls who are fans now not only have a girl to cheer for in this year's Indy 500, but also can cheer for a girl in a pink car!"
(from my own interview with Pippa in 2015)

Most of all, what's inspiring about Pippa isn't just her struggle to get a car on track or to raise money for Komen or to proudly wear pink. It's not how well and much she interacts with fans on social media. It's not even the fact that she's an admitted book nerd! It's that she's unfailingly positive. She posts positive messages every morning, and I've never heard her say a bad word about anyone. She knows that positive attitudes attract people, and besides, she seems to truly take every day she gets to be involved with racecars as a gift and a privilege. We could all learn from her.

P.S. Go check out her eBay auction for the cool stuff and experiences on offer—especially the Turn the Cockpit Pink item!—and help her raise even more money for the Susan G. Komen foundation this year!

(Top photo from pippamann.com.)

2 comments:

  1. Another wonderful post, Tammy. My wife and I got to meet Pippa after having a winning bid in last year's fundraiser. Like you, she's amazing!

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